Happy early César Chávez Day.

I have to file something with the Court on Monday, so I checked the Court Calendar to make sure it wasn’t a holiday. Don’t laugh – the Court recognizes holidays I’ve never even heard of. For instance:

Me: Huh! Who knew there was a César Chávez day?

Grandma Secretary, passing by: I forget; was he legal?

Me, with narrowed eyes and sarcastic tone: He was born in Arizona, so I assume he was legal, yes.

Grandma Secretary: Hey, the only reason you don’t mind the illegals is because you don’t work in a job area that they’re taking over.

Me: I’m sorry, do you work in one of those jobs?

Grandma Secretary: Yes! Some of the firms downtown hire hispanic legal secretaries because they can get them for $38,000!

Me: Are those secretaries illegal immigrants?

Grandma Secretary: Well, no, but –

Me: Then that’s completely irrelevant.

Grandma Secretary: But they’d have to pay a white or a black a lot more than that.

Me: So your issue isn’t with illegal immigration; it’s with wage discrimination against legal hispanic workers.

Grandma Secretary: Look, don’t try to tell me they’re not taking away jobs. When my husband worked construction a few years ago, he said there were no white faces there any more.

Me: Again, I’m going to have to go with, “not a statement about illegal immigration.”

Grandma Secretary: Well, if you think I’m racist, you should hear what my black friends have to say about it.

And with that she flounced out of my office.

Ever willing to spend my lunch hour doing research, I immediately hit the internet. If the problem is illegal immigrants taking jobs, then there must be plenty of Americans ready and waiting for those jobs, right? According to the LA Times, Colorado is now facing the consequences of that particular fallacy.

Ever since passing what its Legislature promoted as the nation’s toughest laws against illegal immigration last summer, Colorado has struggled with a labor shortage as migrants fled the state. This week, officials announced a novel solution: Use convicts as farmworkers.


[Farmer Joe] Pisciotta said he hoped the program highlighted what he viewed as the absurdity of Colorado’s position — dependent on immigrant labor but trying to chase migrants away. He said the people leaving were not just those who entered the country illegally.

“Some of them have said, ‘We think our paperwork is in order, but how about if it’s not and we get caught on a glitch,’ ” he said.

But for those unwilling to have felons pick their melons, it seems like a guest worker program would be a good option. Or maybe not, says the New York Times.

Labor experts say employers abuse guest workers far more than other workers because employers know they can ship them home the moment they complain. They also know these workers cannot seek other jobs if they are unhappy.


Critics, including many labor unions and immigrant groups, say employers exaggerate the labor shortage because they are eager for cheap, docile, temporary labor from abroad. The critics say there would not be such a shortage of American workers if employers offered a living wage for these jobs.

Huh. Maybe that’s the real problem, eh? Employers are unwilling to offer a living wage – never heard of that happening before.

Oh, but it’s so much easier to blame the brown people.


12 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Mom said,

    Great post. Where would we be without Grandma Secretary?

  2. 2

    uccellina said,

    No kidding. I finally made her a category of her own.

  3. 3

    MonkeyGurrl said,

    I’m a slightly off-white olive person. Where do I fit in with G-ma secretary’s theory? As for a felon picking my melons, well, that *could* be fun!!!

  4. 4

    husband said,

    I say ship Grandma Secretary back to Oxnard, where she belongs.
    And while she’s there, make her pick strawberries.

  5. 5

    A said,

    I just get so confused trying to remember which is acceptable racism and which isn’t.

  6. 6

    husband said,

    A – The acceptable kind is the one where you make Grandmas pick
    strawberries – you know, the kind who make three or four times as
    much as the people she’s complaining about. It’s only evil if you
    don’t let her wear sunblock.

  7. 7

    Andree said,

    “Black friends….”

    I am surprised Grandma Secretary has friends at all.

    …and I would ship her to Death Valley, Oxnard is too good for her!

  8. 8

    A said,

    If she didn’t wear sunblock, how could you distinguish her from the strawberries??

  9. 9

    bronnie said,

    The US is sending mixed messages—- ‘Help Wanted’ AND ‘No Trespassing’.. Okay George Bush, you idiot—-WHICH IS IT?? One cannot really blame people coming here for the so-called ‘better life’,for it is the employers,corporate and otherwise, who encourage this rampant influx who must be made accountable and justly penalized. They are breaking the law far more flagrantly than the immigrants are. They cash in on and grossly exploit cheap labor for support of the underground economy– which evades taxes wherever it can to increase the almightly company profit.
    There is also the question that can be posed re: eventual assimilation(into the taxbase) of the millions of illegal aliens who have been(or plan to be) here for the long haul. Even once they ARE legal, how many will truly be making enough to be taxed at the rate at which they are forced(due to lack of employer provisions) to absorb public health and other services FROM the taxbase? And don’t forget, too, the enormous amount of money that is being sent OUT of the country, never to be circulated within this economy. Vicente Fox admitted that this is Mexico’s largest source of revenue, and has been since 2003.
    As as a legal immigrant my self, I’m particularly sensitive to the these issues ,and I cannot pretend to be any kind of expert..but when trade and commerce are virtually backing this influx,it’s obvious that changes MUST be made so that the undocumented who are simply persuing the American Dream are not made instant felons, and those who choose to exploit them are.

  10. 10

    miss kendra said,

    i blame everyone but me for everything but me.


  11. 11

    eve said,

    great post! love your bog!

  12. 12

    MonkeyGurrl said,

    I just re-read this post (b/c you are obviously too busy off filing something with the Courts), and it reminded me of the time my previous boss (female fat-cat lawyer from SD) was in LA and she took me and the Jman to dinner (Mr. Chow’s, b/c that was how she rolled). We were chatting and I mentioned how the traffic on the 405 was snarled b/c a truck hauling cherry-pickers crashed and had spilt its load.

    She thought there were a bunch of Mexicans running around on the freeway.


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